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Bobby Biles
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TABATA Revisited - for Advanced Athletes

20/02/2014

After my last blog about Tabata training I had some great questions come up, so I thought it would be beneficial to share those here:

After one session I was barely sweating.

As mentioned in the earlier blog, the initial study was conducted in a physiology lab (e.g. controlled setting).  The groups were given a specific exercise to complete, with the results showing the group completing the Tabata sessions gaining a significant increase in both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.  Note that the study was conducted over a six week period of time.  With that, I doubt any of the elite athletes broke a sweat on the first day.  What I do believe is that each athlete in that group learned how to push his or her body further with each session, as I think it is difficult to work at 170% capacity on the first try.  So, I recommend doing the Tabata method five times/week for six weeks.  That is the only way to know if it works for you.

It was difficult to change gears on my bike for the 10 second rest.

This one is simple.  Don’t change gears, as 10 seconds goes so quickly one doesn’t really have time to do so.  Rather than changing gears, just relax.  As soon as the 10 second period is up get out of the saddle for the first 5-7 seconds of each 20 second ALL OUT.

If one session at a time is good, is two or three better?

I cannot find anything stating if the groups were sequestered or not.  Given the study was conducted over a six week period of time let’s make the assumption they were not.  With that, who is to say the group using the Tabata method in the controlled setting didn’t work out more than the recommended time.  No one really knows, but again, I recommend completing this Tabata method in the same manner as Dr. Tabata had his study group complete it. 

I also understand a lot of athletes (myself included) like mileage.  I simply enjoy being outside, so 100-115 km of running a week is something I enjoy doing.  So, if you are a mileage junky like I am try doubling or tripling the sessions.  However, realize the only thing that will definitely occur is muscle fatigue.  With that, you may not see similar gains in anaerobic and aerobic capacity as the controlled study group saw, as you may not be able to sustain the 170% capacity.

If you choose to do more the workouts should look something like this:

Double (5 minute warm-up and cool-down periods, so each session will be completed in 20 minutes):

  • 5 minute easy spin – high cadence
  • Tabata session (AKA – 4 minutes of hell) - 20 seconds ALL OUT BIG CHAIN RING, 10 seconds recovery x 8 = 4 minutes
  • 2 minute easy spin – high cadence
  • Tabata session (AKA – 4 minutes of hell) - 20 seconds ALL OUT BIG CHAIN RING, 10 seconds recovery x 8 = 4 minutes
  • 5 minute easy spin – high cadence

Triple (5 minute warm-up and cool-down periods, so each session will be completed in 25 minutes):

  • 5 minute easy spin – high cadence
  • Tabata session (AKA – 4 minutes of hell) - 20 seconds ALL OUT BIG CHAIN RING, 10 seconds recovery x 8 = 4 minutes
  • 2 minute easy spin – high cadence
  • Tabata session (AKA – 4 minutes of hell) - 20 seconds ALL OUT BIG CHAIN RING, 10 seconds recovery x 8 = 4 minutes
  • 2 minute easy spin – high cadence
  • Tabata session (AKA – 4 minutes of hell) - 20 seconds ALL OUT BIG CHAIN RING, 10 seconds recovery x 8 = 4 minutes
  • 5 minute easy spin – high cadence
Have fun!

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